SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Up to one-fifth of Chile’s copper mine capacity was shut on Saturday after the world’s biggest producer was rocked by a huge magnitude-8.8 earthquake, but the facilities were undamaged and expected to resume operations quickly as power was restored.
The nation’s oil refineries appeared to be at greater risk, with its largest plant located near the epicenter; both were forced to shut down for further investigation.
The central copper-export port of San Antonio was shut down, but the major northern ports of Antofagasta and Mejillones were unaffected, as were operations at the biggest copper deposits in the north.
Following are details on the impact to energy and mining operations after the earthquake that struck 70 miles northeast of Concepcion and about 200 miles south of Santiago.
For a map showing the epicenter, clickhere
State energy firm ENAP shut down both its 116,000 barrel pre day (bpd) Bio Bio oil refinery, which is located just north of the city of Concepcion, as well as its roughly 100,000 bpd Aconcagua refinery near the capital.
Mining Minister Santiago Gonzalez told Reuters it would take until Sunday to assess the damage to Bio Bio. ENAP said it would need to increase diesel imports to meet demand. It said it had sufficient gasoline stocks to last two weeks and diesel stocks for 10 days.
MAJOR COPPER MINES AND SMELTERS
With almost all major copper producers confirming their status after the quake, operations at mines producing over 1 million metric tons a year -- near one-fifth of the country’s total 5.4 million metric tons last year -- had been suspended by the quake, but they appeared undamaged.
Officials confirmed that the two biggest mines in the far north -- Escondida and Chuquicamata -- were unaffected.
State-run Codelco said only its El Teniente and Andina mines were impacted because of electricity cuts after the quake, but they were otherwise undamaged. El Teniente is the world’s biggest underground copper mine with output of 404,000 metric tons in 2009.
Gonzalez said Codelco’s 435,000 metric tons per year Caletones smelter had been halted, and that it could take two days for the mines to resume production.
A spokesman for Anglo-American AAL.L said it had shut its Los Bronces and El Soldado mines, which together produce around 280,000 metric tons of copper annually. It has been planning to expand the 238,400 metric tons per year Los Bronces deposit, one of the world's biggest.
Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc FCX.N said the quake did not damage its two mines, but it is facing a power outage at its Candelaria mine, which will result in a temporary shutdown.
SMALLER MINERS REPORT NO DAMAGE
Smaller miners reported little impact. Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO, Kinross Gold Corp K.TO and Breakwater BWR.TO said its mines had not been affected. Teck Resources Ltd TCKb.TO said the quake had not impacted its Andacollo and Quebrada mines, though they could still be hit by power supply restrictions.
SMALLER PORTS SHUT
The Chilean copper-exporting port of San Antonio is closed, Denis Yanez, leader of a union federation representing port workers, told Reuters.
But the key copper-exporting ports of Antofagasta and Mejillones were operating normally, said Christian Salfate, union leader at Antofagasta.
Here is an overview of major mines and smelters in Chile:
Mine Location Operator Output Status KM Dist from
El Teniente 75km S of Santiago Codelco 404,000 ops suspend 240
Andina 50km NE of Santiago Codelco 210,000 ops suspend 320
Los Bronces 65km NE of Santiago Anglo-American 235,000 shut 335
El Soldado 132km N of Santiago Anglo-American 50,000 shut 400
Los Pelambres 200km NE of SantiagoAntofagasta 310,000 n/a 480
Candelaria FreeportMcMoRan185,000 power outage 650
Escondida far north BHP Billiton 780,000 ops normal 750
Collahuasi far north Xstrata/Anglo 435,000 ops normal 1,000
Chuquicamata far north Codelco 565,000 ops normal 1,140
Top smelters Near Operator Capacity Status KM Dist from
Caletones El Teniente Codelco 435,000 halted 250
Potrerillos Codelco 195,000 ops normal 750
Altonorte Antofagasta Port Xstrata 268,014 n/a 926
Chuquicamata Chuquicamata Codelco 590,130 ops normal 1,140
* Status as of 1700 GMT on Saturday from Reuters reports.
* Output as of 2009 from Metals Production Database; Teniente/Andina output as of 2009 from company; Bronces/Soldado output as of 2008 from company Website.
* Location is based on company information, public data
* Distance best estimate using company data, Google Maps
Reporting by Alonso Soto and Eduardo Garcia; Additional reporting by Euan Rocha
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